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Former Cougar Chad Lewis looking forward to watching BYU tight ends 'dominate'

PROVO — Former BYU star and NFL Pro Bowl tight end Chad Lewis has been waiting a long time for this.

Finally, after a prolonged drought, BYU's tight ends are expected to play a major role in the Cougars' offense.

“I always love watching tight ends at BYU dominate. I’m very pumped to see that happen this year,” said Lewis, who now serves as an associate athletic director at BYU. “I’m really excited for these guys. (Tight ends coach) Steve Clark has done a great job during the offseason and all camp working with them and getting them up to speed.”

Freshman Matt Bushman and junior Moroni Laulu-Pututau figure to be key targets for quarterback Tanner Mangum.

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself with Matt because he’s phenomenal. I’ve watched him closely since he got off of his mission,” Lewis said. “In spring football, people starting recognizing that he’s very talented. He’s got amazing hand-eye coordination. He has a lot more speed than people think. He’s very natural at the position. What makes him so talented is he doesn’t get caught up in anything other than what the coaches want him to do.”

Laulu-Pututau moved from wide receiver to tight end during the spring.

“He’s made a great transition from receiver to tight end," Lewis said of Laulu-Pututau. "It’s a difficult transition because now you’re blocking really nasty defensive ends that want to kill you. He’s done a nice job with that. I’m excited to see him play.”

'SWEET FEET': The Cougars’ other tight ends include Tanner Balderree, Hunter Marshall and converted offensive lineman JJ Nwigwe.

Nwigwe, who was switched to tight end at the start of fall camp, wears Lewis’ number at BYU — 96.

“I love it. I can’t think of a better guy on this team to wear that number than JJ,” Lewis said. “Every time I pass him in the hallways, I’ve called him ‘Sweet Feet’ the past couple of years. I love his feet. Not only does he have the biggest smile in Utah, but he’s a great athlete. I love the transition for him to tight end. He can help out in blocking and play-action situations. I would love to see him rumble in for a couple of touchdowns this year. I can’t wait to see him do his thing.”

SETTING THE TONE: Defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki wants to see his players build on last year’s performance, starting with Saturday's season-opener against Portland State.

“We’re going to come out and hopefully pick up where we left off. That’s really what it is — this is the plan and we’re going to fight through adversity,” Tuiaki said. “That’s probably the biggest message, to be ready for adversity and fight. Don’t be surprised if we’re winning by 50 and don’t be surprised if we’re down by seven. Just be ready to go.”